Game Gear Quick Look: Ninja Gaiden - Destructoid

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There are a bunch of games on the Sega Game Gear that were originally made for the Sega Master System. It makes a lot of sense, since the Game Gear's technical specs were nearly identical to the Master System. They're similar enough that, with a Master System converter, you can actually play SMS games on the Game Gear.

So with both game libraries, you have a bit of overlap. Some games were ported to the Game Gear, others were actually ported to the Master System in territories that the Master System enjoyed success in, which consisted primarily of Brazil and most of Europe.

Ninja Gaiden is a game that seems to be a double-dipper at first, as there is a Ninja Gaiden on the Master System. This isn't the case, though. The Game Gear version of Ninja Gaiden is completely different from its Master System counterpart. In fact, as far as I know, it's completely unique to the console.

The title screen is standard Game Gear fare. Of course, the real fun begins when you press start.

If you're looking for a crazy-hard, throw-your-handheld-at-the-wall kind of experience, look elsewhere. This version of Ninja Gaiden is downright tame compared to the other versions of the game. For the record, the Atari Lynx version is a port of the arcade game, and the Game Boy version is "Ninja Gaiden Shadow", a completely different game. But that's another show.

The background in this level is fairly sparse, but other levels do have more detail in them. The sprites are clear and distinct, and it's not hard to tell where you are. Unlike a game like Sonic 2, Ryu moves slow enough to not be a pain in the ass to see on a Game Gear's screen. This level does have an issue with the enemy ninjas blending in with the ground, but it's not a huge issue.

You face a boss at the end of each level. This particular boss was a little confusing at first, since he's only vulnerable in a certain position and hitting him when he isn't in that position won't do anything. On top of that, this guy will DESTROY your health if you let him touch you, and by the time you can get off of him he's already taken out a huge chunk of your health.

Needless to say, this guy wrecked me at first. If you die, you have to start at the beginning of the level. That's the only real "hard" aspect of this game. It's not even that much of a setback, since the levels themselves are straightforward and not hard to get through at all.

Oooh, a cutscene! Once you defeat the boss, you actually get a little scene that serves as the transition to the next level of the game. This is a bit of a rarity in the Game Gear library. Actual plot? In my Ninja Gaiden?

This is totally not Shinobi. Honest.

Check out that background, too. It definitely works better than the previous level.

Ninja Gaiden is an okay game. It's nothing to write home about. I'd suggest checking out this game if you're looking to carve up some people who probably deserve to be carved up.

Ninja Gaiden is a series that is known for being very difficult. The fact that this game isn't makes it somewhat of a black sheep in the Ninja Gaiden family. It's certainly do-able in one run if you're careful enough and you know how to deal with the bosses. It's a far cry from the crazyness of the NES games.

It's definitely unique.
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